The Taiwanese ex-husband of retired Japanese table tennis star Ai Fukuhara called on her Thursday to promptly comply with a Tokyo court order to hand over their son, after she took him to Japan from Taiwan around a year ago.
"I want to see my son as soon as possible. I want the child to be returned peacefully in accordance with the court order," Chiang Hung-chieh, a Taiwanese table tennis player and television personality, said at a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Tokyo.
In July 2022, Fukuhara took their son to Japan for the summer holidays and cut contact with Chiang, while filing for sole custody of their son with the Tokyo Family Court, according to Chiang's lawyers.
Chiang also resorted to legal means to seek the handover of their son, leading the court to issue on July 20 an order instructing Fukuhara to return the child.
The couple, who divorced in 2021, has joint custody of their two children living in Taiwan, the lawyers said. Japan does not recognize joint custody of children after their parents' divorce.
Chiang's lawyer Aiko Obuchi raised concerns that Fukuhara may take the child overseas and warned of the possibility pressing criminal charges of child abduction if she does not comply with the court order.
Fukuhara's lawyer said legal procedures inside Japan have not yet been finalized and that more deliberations are expected.
"We have been in contact with Chiang's appointed lawyers," the lawyer said, stressing that the provisional handover must "be done cautiously considering the best interests of the child."
"There have been no specific proposals with the child's well-being in mind from Mr. Chiang's side, and I am surprised he suddenly held a press conference," the lawyer said.
Fukuhara, known affectionately in Japan as "Ai-chan," and Chiang were married after the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, where she added a bronze team medal to her silver from the 2012 London Olympics. She gave birth to their daughter in 2017 and their son in 2019.